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By Jess Fenton
19th May 2013

Beginning in a Lahore cafe in 2011, Changez (Riz Ahmed), a Pakistani man, is being interviewed by Bobby (Liev Schreiber), a journalist questioning him about his involvement in the kidnapping of a local American professor. Just outside the cafe, tempers are flaring, and the already volatile situation is getting steadily worse as the usual suspects - college students - are being rounded up as they protest authorities, while also trying to keep the peace and simply be heard. Changez tells Bobby of his story, starting 10 years earlier, as he graduated from Princeton and found himself at a very prestigious firm as a business analyst. Extremely talented, successful and educated, Changez was living the American dream, complete with a beautiful artist girlfriend Erica (Kate Hudson) - but that’s all challenged with the events of September 11, and his life eventually unravels.

Tackling a story such as this and from its chosen point of view is challenging and risky. It has to be done right, it has to be done well, and most importantly, is has to be done for the right reasons and with conviction - go hard or go home. The entire film rests solely on the performance of its leading man - thankfully, Ahmed delivers. The English-born actor masters a powerful and rich yet subtle and nuanced performance that is unfortunately let down but the filmmaker's unwillingness to contribute the same.


The complexities of the characters, story and goal create an overly ambitious package that ends up working against itself at times, leaving gaps for the message to mistakingly come across as a righteous diatribe. While all well-intentioned, it’s the energy and dramatic focus at the end of film that becomes unclear, confusing audiences as to how and why they got there.

In the early stages of production, ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ had difficulties in funding due to its story, and it found itself in a similar situation when it came to distribution - it’s these issues that could lead one to assume why the film’s storytelling boundaries weren’t bold enough, or pushed hard enough, to become the unforgettable film it needed and wanted to be.

Thought-provoking cinema plagued by uneven storytelling.

RELEASE DATE: 23/05/2013
RUN TIME: 2h 10m
CAST: Kate Hudson - Erica
Liev Schreiber - Bobby Lincoln
Kiefer Sutherland - Jim Cross
Riz Ahmed - Changez
WRITER: William Heeler
PRODUCER: Lydia Dean Pilcher
SCORE: Michael Andrews
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